Prepare for the same thing to happen with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)—with tablets and smartphones as the vehicle. According to IDC, 25% of enterprise IT organizations will be testing augmented reality business applications for use on smartphones by the end of 2017.
“This may sound relatively aggressive, but the conversations I’m having with the industry and some surveys that we’ve run talking to IT decision makers show that there’s a really strong interest around augmented reality,” said Tom Mainelli, program vice president of the devices & AR/VR group at IDC, during a recent webinar, IDC Futurescape: Worldwide Wearables and AR/VR 2017 Predictions.
The end game is head-worn AR hardware, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, he said. But for a lot of enterprises, they are going to begin creating apps and back-end processes on devices that consumers and businesses already own.
Pokémon Go gave us a taste of AR, and we’ve seen retailers using AR technology. Walgreens and Toys R Us use an app called Aisle411 that guides customers to products with the store. North Face provides 360-degree videos of outdoor experiences using Oculus Rift in which the actors wear North Face clothing. Audi has a virtual experience that allows you to take virtual test drive and to virtually see features and options on their cars. And Ashley Furniture will soon have an AR app that helps shoppers see how home furnishings fit into an existing space.
As smartphone technology improves, we will see much better AR experiences, Mainelli said. The first product working toward that is the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, which is based on Google’s Tango technology. It uses three cameras and multiple sensors to see where it is and capture a wide range of measurements to create an enhanced AR experience, he said.
Other AR and VR predictions from IDC:
- In 2017, retail industry spending on AR/VR hardware, software and services will increase by 145% to more than $1 billion.
- Three out of 10 consumer-facing Fortune 5000 companies will experiment with AR or VR as part of their marketing efforts in 2017.
- By 2019, 10% of all web-based meetings will include an AR component driving disruption of the $3 billion web conferencing market.
“I really believe augmented reality is going to have the same type of impact on businesses as the PC did all those years ago,” Mainelli said. “And once developers start to figure out what they can do with this technology, business is going to change pretty dramatically. … Eventually we will end up at a place where augmented reality really is the new way that we interface with devices, digital content, physical objects and with data.”
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